The UK’s coal generation in the first quarter of 2016 has fallen by about 50% on the same period in 2015 which is a record low for the industry, according to the latest official figures.
In the first three months of the year, coal fired plants generated 14.6TWh of electricity, compared with 29.5TWh in the first quarter of last year, while the coal industry’s overall generation fell to 15.8% from 30.8%.
A market preference for gas and further plant closures were given as the reasons for the ‘record low’ by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Already this year, a series of coal fired plants have left the main energy market or shut down, including Rugeley, Eggborough and Longannet. Meanwhile, Fiddler’s Ferry was saved from closure after the National Gird awarded it a black start contract.
Gas generation saw a rise of 48% year on year, which is a rise from 23.7TWh to 35.0TWh, while its share of the generation mix also saw a significant rise from 24.7% to 37.8%.
Price reporting company ICIS also reported that gas prices levelled out at around ten year lows in the year’s first quarter after a prolonged decline.
There was a slight decrease in nuclear generation, falling from 18.2TWh to 17.3TWh, at the end of December after the closure of Wylfa in Wales.
Overall, the period saw a 3.4% fall in electricity generation from 95.8TWh to 92.5TWh, while the renewables’ share of generation rose to over a quarter.
Earlier in the month a Conservative think tank, Bright Blue, stated that the future of UK electricity will be secure without coal.
The government has declared its intention to close all coal power stations by 2025, with its use being significantly restricted from 2023, but only if there is enough gas fired capacity available to ensure a secure supply.